On Wednesday, April 13, TTF and Riverfront North Partnership staff visited New York, exploring three parks across three boroughs to learn about park planning efforts in other cities.
Our first stop was Gantry State Park/Hunters Point Park in Long Island City. While there, we toured both parks with Rob Basch, the president of the Hunters Point Conservancy. The conservancy is the friend’s group that stewards and oversees the combined 23 park acres. Hunters Point Conservancy was originally formed in 1998 as the Friends of Gantry Plaza by concerned residents who wanted to take care of this natural area. The group changed its name in 2014 after the opening of Hunters Point Park in 2013.
The two parks were designed so that visitors can walk between both parks without realizing it! Gantry Plaza is a State Park supervised by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, opened in 1998. This 12-acre park was named after the two large restored gantries that act as its centerpiece. The gantries were originally used to load and unload cargo ferried across the East River to and from Manhattan. Gantry State Park has several amenities for people visiting such as playgrounds, handball courts, and four piers including a fishing pier with a cleaning table.
Hunter’s Point is an 11-acre city park supervised by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Phase 1 park was officially opened in 2013 and Phase 2 opened in 2018. Much of Hunters Point Park is tidal marsh installed along the shoreline to assist in storing groundwater and act as a filtration system for the watershed. Hunters Point offers a large amount of green space, such as the Activities Oval where people can relax. The size of this space enables the Hunters Point Conservancy to host programs such as movie nights. There’s also a permanent art installation in this area, titled Luminescence, designed by a local artist. The installation included seven sculptures that represent the seven phases of the moon. The piece absorbs solar energy throughout the day and glows at night, so you can clearly see the different phases of the moon.
The third park we visited was the historic Governors Island. We were given a tour of the island by a Volunteer Coordinator from the Friends of Governors Island. If you look at a map of Governors Island, you’ll notice its distinct ice cream cone shape. Originally, Governors Island was a small egg shape. The “cone” section was created in 1911 using excess materials from the construction of the Lexington Avenue subway line. For most of its history, Governors Island was a full-service military and coast guard base.
While on the island, we learned about the Billion Oyster Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore the New York oyster population and natural biodiversity to the harbor. One oyster can filter 50 gallons of water so imagine what 1 billion oysters can do! So far, the group has returned 78 million oysters to the harbor. The Billion Oyster Project works with local restaurants to collect discarded oyster shells on which new oyster larva can grow.
After the island tour, we took a bike ride to explore all the other amenities that Governors Island offers, from public art to outdoor recreation and leisure. The Field Station of the Melancholy Marine Biologist by Mark Dion is a public art installation that depicts the struggle marine biologists confront in the face of climate change. We also visited Slide Hill, home to four slides of various sizes for families to enjoy. The fourth slide is 57 feet long and three stories high, making it the longest slide in New York City!
A special thank you to Riverfront North Partnership for organizing and including us in this educational trip.
View more photos from this trip here!